If the Buffalo Bills have any hope of ending their 15-year playoff drought, they’ll have to overcome a schedule that presents its two biggest challenges at the beginning and middle. Their first two games are against last year’s AFC Championship Game opponents, the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots. Then, on Nov. 12, the Bills begin a brutal stretch of five out of six games on the road when they face the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. In between is a trip to London to face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 25. Here’s a closer look at what’s in store for the Bills in the next four months:
You know Rex Ryan is already salivating at the thought of all of the blitzes he’ll be dialing up for Andrew Luck as the Colts’ quarterback looks to exploit what could be a shaky secondary.
Keep an eye on those footballs. Tom Brady, thanks to a judge nullifying his suspension in the “Deflategate” case, is coming to town. Brady’s record against the Bills is 23-3.
The Bills’ defense faltered in a Thursday night game in South Florida last season. This time, Ryan Tannehill has better receivers. And the Dolphins’ D added tackle Ndamukong Suh.
The 2014 NFL Draft was the Year of the Receiver and a pair of prominent classmates, the Bills’ Sammy Watkins and the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr., will look to outperform each other.
Second overall draft pick Marcus Mariota could be in for a long day against Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes and the rest of one of the NFL’s best pass-rushing units.
Another top-flight receiver, A.J. Green, pays a visit to The Ralph. But the Bills’ defense can’t allow Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to walk out with a win, can it?
at Jacksonville (London)
Nothing will be routine about the Bills’ first regular-season game overseas. They’ll be spending the week in England and kickoff will be at 9:30 a.m. ET.
After a bye, the Bills should be well rested and ready to knock off the Dolphins at home for the fourth year in a row. A win here is crucial because five of the next six are on the road.
at N.Y. Jets
Rex Bowl I, on Thursday, begins what figures to be the toughest stretch of the season. By this time, will Ryan Fitzpatrick be facing his former team or will Geno Smith be going against his former coach?
at New England
Some extra time to prepare can’t hurt as the Bills are in prime time for the second game in a row for their second game of the season against Bill Belichick, whose preparation skills are legendary.
at Kansas City
For the eighth year in a row, the Bills face the Chiefs. Personally, I’d be lying if I said this trip isn’t at least as much about getting some great barbecued ribs as it is about the football.
The Bills finally get reacquainted with their home field. Brian Hoyer didn’t fare so well when he visited the Ralph with the Browns last season, and this trip doesn’t figure to go much better.
What are the chances that Sam Bradford is still healthy? Rex could be facing another of his former quarterbacks, Mark Sanchez. His defense just can’t let itself be trampled by DeMarco Murray.
This looks to be as good an opportunity as any for Buffalo to get a road victory and extend its winning streak against the Redskins to seven since losing to them in Super Bowl XXVI.
The Cowboys’ running game could be in trouble, which could spell difficulty for Tony Romo against Buffalo’s pass rush. This has the makings of a wild finish, just as when Dallas came to OP in ’07.
Think Rex is going to be motivated to close the season with a win that could very well kill his former team’s chances of making the playoffs … and vault his new one into the postseason?